I am a proud Tasmanian with a deep love and passion for our state – a state that continually punches well above its weight.
Tasmania may be small in size, and our existence may continue to be excluded from maps of Australia, but no one can ignore the fact that historically we have accomplished numerous firsts.
Notable examples include the first x-ray in the Southern Hemisphere, having the first city entirely powered by hydro electricity, being the first to use anaesthetic in surgery, and launching the first art society in Australia.
Today we can be proud of places like MONA, Blue Derby Mountain Bike trails and the Bridestowe Lavender Farm, which attract people from around the world.
In considering these and many other examples of the way in which Tassie well and truly deserves its place on the map, there is one common factor – courageous leadership.
Last week Hobart City Council moved to ban single-use plastics and will likely become the first capital city in Australia to do so.
Whether or not you agree with the concept of banning single-use plastics, this decision reflects strong leadership; leadership that is too often lacking in our political circles.
This is courageous leadership that we as a community should be embracing and celebrating.
The alternative would have been to sit back and do nothing, allowing others to take the lead. This is the easy way – but it is not leadership.
When I think about what I admire most in leaders, it’s attributes such as courage, vision, drive and contribution (service).
Courage is fundamental to creating real change and involves taking action despite any fear that may be present.
I find it deeply inspiring when leaders face fear head on and take the risk of doing what they feel is right, particularly when it is hard.
Vision is the light on the hill and is critical for engaging others and ensuring change is aligned to the required outcome.
Drive is the unrelenting will to succeed.
And service is about considering the greater good and using this as a filter for the leader’s decision making.
This takes the leader beyond their ego and is how true progress is created.
I believe that the Hobart City Council has demonstrated these attributes in their decision.
They’ve looked beyond the short-term political cycle and made a brave, bold and inspiring decision that serves the community as a whole – now and into the future.
As was the case with single-use plastic bags, the ban on single-use plastics is inevitable.
The only question is, do we want to be leaders in bringing about this change?
Doing so is a great opportunity for Tasmania to lead the country… and shake off some of that still-prevalent mainland perception about how conservative and out of touch we are.
Strong leadership is certainly fundamental to change of this nature, but it’s not the only requirement. Widespread change at a societal level requires a movement.
In addition to the leader (in this case, Hobart City Council), there’s an unsung hero in the form of a ‘first follower’ - the person or organisation who turns an idea from being the isolated action of a lone-player, into the foundation for a movement.
This then leads to widespread change.
It’s also therefore pleasing to see City of Launceston stand up and announce that they will also shortly debate this idea.
Launceston has the opportunity to be one of the early movers in this space, but also, to give the idea momentum, to show others how to follow, and to help create that movement.
It is my hope that in considering this idea, the City of Launceston will join Hobart in taking a strong leadership stance - initiating and driving change for the community they serve.
Prior to last week, community discussion around single-use plastics was somewhat directionless and without imperative.
In bringing this issue to the forefront of public awareness, Hobart City Council has now created the opportunity for this consultation and discussion to occur.
Regardless of the outcome, true leadership has emerged to create these opportunities for community engagement.
Moving forward, I hope our community celebrates the leadership demonstrated by Hobart City Council (regardless of any individual views on the specific issue).
It is only by recognising and celebrating strong leadership that we can expect it to continue.
I also encourage the state government to join in the vision, courage, drive and service shown by Hobart City Council and put Tassie on the map as the first state in Australia to ban single-use plastics.
It’s the right thing to do for the community and someone needs to lead the way.
Let’s be bold.
- Tony Chapman is SRA Corporate Change director, which focuses on unlocking the potential of organisations and their leaders to cultivate high performance through strategy, leadership and culture.